Veteran free-agent power forward Josh Smith signed with the Los Angeles Clippers for the NBA's veteran's minimum on July 16 for a chance at winning an NBA title, per ESPN.
Josh Smith signed with the Los Angeles Clippers for the NBA's veteran's minimum to earn a shot at an NBA title.
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The veteran's minimum is worth $1.5 million. Smith, who is entering his 12th year in the league, signed with the very same team which the Houston Rockets, his most recent team, eliminated in the secound round of last year's playoffs, per ESPN.
A league source told NBA ESPN Insider Chris Broussard that Smith "chose winning and a defined role over money."
After spending nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Smith played the next two with the Detroit Pistons before his childhood friend, Rockets center Dwight Howard, lured him to Houston, per ESPN.
Smith came off the bench at the 4-spot to score in double figures in 35 of the 48 games he played in Houston. He was also one of the main reasons why the Rockets overcame a 3-1 series deficit to beat Los Angeles.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale decided to start Smith in Game 5. Smith scored nine points in a 124-103 win at the Toyota Center on May 12, per ESPN.
In the very next game, Smith and Corey Brewer combined for 29 points in the fourth quarter to help Houston overcome a late 19-point deficit in the second half and prevail, 119-107. Smith finished with 19 points and six rebounds, per ESPN.
According to ESPN, Smith is not really known for his three-point shooting, but the Rockets encouraged him to shoot from the outside because it fit their system well. Smith also said he liked playing for McHale because he was able to play to his strengths.
Houston also liked Smith's rebounding and passing from the low post, per ESPN.
However, the Rockets envisioned Smith being a third stringer at the power forward spot behind Terrence Jones and Donatus Motiejunas, per The Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner and Ben Bolch.
Prior to signing with the Clippers, Smith expressed his desire to return to Houston and play for McHale and with Howard. He issued a statement obtained by ESPN last week thanking the Rockets for his time with the team:
"Over my pro career I have spent a lot of time in Houston with friends and family. Over the past year, while with the Rockets, the team, fans and people of Houston have made it a second home.
"I want to express my appreciation to everyone for the support and kindness they have showed me and my family while I have been here. Thank you!"
Turner and Bolch say Smith will earn the bulk of his salary from the Pistons, who will pay him $5.4 million annually until the 2019-20 NBA season after they waived him last season.
Smith's arrival completes an overhaul of the Clippers' bench, which ranked 29th in the NBA in 2014-15, per HoopsStats.com.
The Clippers offseason bench additions include Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson and Cole Aldrich. They also acquired shooting guard Lance Stephenson after trading Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to the Charlotte Hornets in June, per The Los Angeles Times.
The 29-year-old Smith has averaged 15.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 836 career regular-season games with the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets, per ESPN stats.
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